Background: Childhood maltreatment (CM) has been repeatedly linked to future problem drinking. Depression has been identified as a potential factor contributing to problematic alcohol use in maltreated individuals. However, depression has been operationalized as the presence or number of depression symptoms in the majority of previous studies. The role of other relevant measures of depression, such as depressive implicit associations, is not well understood. Objectives: The present study addresses this gap in the literature by examining the mediating role of both depression symptoms and depressive implicit associations. Methods: A community sample of young adults (N = 208, mean age = 19.7, 78.4% females) completed self-report measures of CM, depression symptoms, and problem drinking. Depressive implicit associations were assessed by a computer-based implicit association test (IAT). Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to examine the direct link between CM and problem drinking as well as indirect links through depression symptoms and depressive implicit associations. Results: CM was significantly associated with both depression symptoms (β = 0.35, p < .001) and depressive implicit associations (β = 0.36, p < .001). Additionally, CM was associated with problem drinking indirectly via depression symptoms during young adulthood (β = .06, p = .019). Conclusion: Our study provides evidence for the role of depression symptoms, but not for depressive implicit associations, in linking CM and problem drinking. Treating depression in individuals with a history of CM may help to prevent problem drinking in this vulnerable population.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
- child abuse
- child maltreatment
- depression symptoms
- depressive implicit associations
- Problem drinking